New Creative Community Recovery Programme Launched

Norwich Theatre is delighted to launch its Creative Community Recovery Programme, a new programme of free community activities focusing on using creative participation to support better mental health and emotional wellbeing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A strong commitment to local communities sits firmly at the heart of Norwich Theatre’s charitable mission and organisational values.  Prior to lockdown its award-winning Take Part programme worked with around 10,000 participants each year through a wide range of partnerships with schools, community groups and other charitable organisations.  This new programme sees Norwich Theatre adapt and re-invent this programme specifically to meet the needs of the local community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The overall aim of the Creative Community RecoveryProgramme is to harness the power of creativity to address the disconnection and isolation that so many individuals, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic, are continuing to experience.  Reaching far and wide across Norwich and Norfolk, the 10-month programme is made up of an eclectic mix of participatory activities in a variety of art forms.  The programme’s first batch of activities which are announced today are all designed in strict adherence with current guidelines and to be deliverable irrespective of any potential future changes to restrictions.

The programme has two main strands. The first focuses upon the engagement of older adults who have found themselves particularly isolated because of COVID-19.  Working in collaboration with care homes and partner organisations such as Age UK, activities will be offered initially remotely via telephone, post or online. These will include dance, poetry, acting, singing and crafts in which people can actively participate from the comfort of their own homes. Over time and when it is safe to do so, this will hopefully lead to small group activities in-person at venues such as care homes or libraries, as well as in Norwich Theatre’s own venues once they reopen.

The second strand focuses on supporting children who have increased vulnerability in returning to education and for whom the pandemic has been a particularly traumatic experience.  For some of the children taking part in this strand of the programme this will have been due to being in lockdown in an unstable or volatile home environment and for some this trauma will have been triggered by loss and grief as a result of the pandemic.  Working alongside schools in the city, Norwich Theatre’s specialist team will tailor a package of drama based activities supporting children to create, hear and share their own stories, re-engaging with a love of learning, whilst exploring their own emotional wellbeing.

The Creative Community RecoveryProgramme has been made possible thanks to the generosity of individual donations through Norwich Theatre’s Coronavirus Crisis Appeal and specific grants from Anguish’s Educational Foundation, the Norfolk Community Foundation and Norwich Freemen’s Charity.

To mark the launch of the Creative Community Recovery Programme, Norwich Theatre is also delighted to share ‘Side by Side’, a digital performance project undertaken during lockdown.  Produced by Norwich Theatre in partnership with The Come and Sing Company, this digital tapestry of work includes performances from Echo Youth Theatre, The African Choir, Alderman Peel High School, Michala Jane School of Dance, Central School of Dance, The Common Lot and Sound Ideas. The film is a touching tribute to the enduring and resilient power of creativity during the difficult days of lockdown and is now available to view at norwichtheatre.org.

Over recent months much focus has been given to the role of theatres in staging live performance and this is something we work every day to try to restore.  However, equally important to us at Norwich Theatre is the work that we do away from our stages and I am more passionately committed than ever before to the transformative power that creativity can have within communities as we continue to battle against COVID-19.  As our stages remain dark for now, the launch of this new programme is a way to demonstrate that our commitment to this work, and supporting the emotional and mental wellbeing of the communities we serve, burns brighter than ever before.

Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive of Norwich Theatre

We miss our audiences and participants and cannot wait to welcome them all back when it is safe to do so. There are many people across the world who have, and are still suffering from this pandemic. Our heart goes out to them all. In this interim period we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to support our local communities, especially those who are facing the future with fear and anxiety due to loneliness.

Wendy Ellis, Learning and Participation Director at Norwich Theatre

The Creative Community Recovery Programme is the next instalment of Norwich Theatre’s ‘During the Interval’ programme, a series of truly unique and different events, programmes and interventions bridging the gap between closing its doors in March until its venues are able to properly re-open again.  The series now includes:-

  • the re-opening of the Playhouse Bar with a creative conversion of the much-loved stage at the Playhouse into a relaxed new lounge area;
  • the hugely popular INTERLUDE which saw over 15,000 people attend live performances in a temporary outdoor venue across six weeks in Chapelfield Gardens and a further two weeks at University of East Anglia;
  • Norwich Free Market now being held in the Theatre Royal Car Park on a monthly basis;
  • a special season of festive shows for 2020, A RIGHT ROYAL CHRISTMAS, which will see the Theatre Royal temporarily re-open to audiences during December. 

Creative Community Recovery Programme

The following publically available activities are now online at norwichtheatre.org:-

Side by Side

‘Side by Side’ is a collaborative video project celebrating the resilience and creativity of local talent across Norwich and Norfolk during lockdown.  It provided a bridge during periods of isolation for groups that  had their productions cancelled or were simply been unable to perform together due to lockdown. 

Produced by Norwich Theatre in partnership with The Come and Sing Company, this digital tapestry of work includes work from Echo Youth Theatre, The African Choir, Alderman Peel High School, Michala Jane School of Dance, Central School of Dance, The Common Lot and Sound Ideas. The film is available to view at norwichtheatre.org

Creative Moments

Free | delivered online

A selection of online taster creative workshops including art, creative writing, dance and singing; all delivered by professional artists. No previous experience necessary.

  • Clowning with Sarah Johnson, 9 November
  • Vocal warm ups and breathing techniques with Joseph Ballard, 16 November
  • Garden in a Tea Cup with Kate Munro, 24 November
  • Time to Dance with Glass House Dance, 30 November

Culture Café

Free | delivered online

Settle down with a cup of tea and natter with like-minded people about all things cultural. It’s a chance to meet and greet new and existing friends alike, facilitated by an artist who will keep the conversation flowing. 

  • The Rise of Monologues, 12 November
  • Our Favourite Musicals, 19 November
  • Picasso and Paper, 26 November
  • The World of Interactive Literature, 3 December

Tales of Theatre

Free | delivered online

Working with professional writer James McDermott, an opportunity to share your stories with the aim to produce a piece of reflective writing capturing the value of live experiences of theatre. This might become a book, a permanent website, an event… all options are open.

Short story online workshops

Free | delivered online

Not sure where to start? Why not join writer and practitioner James McDermott to share your tales of theatre – using skills of recollecting, articulating, sharing and analysing memories, participants will learn skills to help them recollect, articulate, analyse and share stories.

A final sharing of the stories will be held online with James McDermott on 9 December. Please submit your work by the 4 December and we will be in touch with details of this online sharing.

Community Choir – At Home

Free | delivered online

A way to connect with other members of the choir community, or meet new participants who are curious and want to try something new.

Creativity in Care Homes

Norwich Theatre has commissioned local practitioners to design Creative Care Packages of pre-recorded workshops, playlists and props for Ballet, Poetry and Music for residents of care homes to take part in, have fun and try something new. There is a menu of options to choose from. The pre-recorded workshops will be available until 31 March 2021.

Creativity Packs

Free | available online

From visual arts to writing drama, a series of activities for people to try at home, on their own or with family and friends. Packs will be available to download at norwichtheatre.org

All workshops and activities are free, but booking is essential at norwichtheatre.org or on 01603 630 000.